Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Chantal Stanfield (Page 1 of 2)

Back in Action

My sleep patterns are completely out again. The dogs have no idea what I am up to. For three days this week we went for our morning walk at 6am. I have spent the week on set for the sequel to a lovely local series, soon to be on a streaming service near you.

And I feel like I have been brought back to life. Yes, we absolutely have been doing things differently. Yes, we wear masks and sanitise and use mouth spray. Yes the spectre of this dreaded disease hangs over us all. Our food packs are prepared for minimum contamination. Door handles are cleaned. Temperatures are taken. And then we go in front of camera and magic happens.

Not going to lie. Like everyone else, only more (my personal circumstances have been dealt a hideous and painful blow this year), we have all been held in a state of suffering suspended animation.

A couple of small and almost miraculous things have saved me from totally bleak darkness – the making of a fiercely independent movie in the deepest winter, the bits of improv we have managed to do on line, the revival of improv teaching in a course that was suddenly halted in lockdown, the release of The Big Bird Battle, and shooting this series have kept me alive.

Now I will be turning to the beautiful and original work of live performance. From the 2-5 December Louise Westerhout and I will be presenting/facilitating/holding our new ‘show’ Murmurations at Theatre Arts in Observatory. I think we will still only present to 15 people a night. Still, what a time to be allowed to create new ways of theatrical communion.

And then, the following week, I go into rehearsal with the gorgeous and talented Chantal Stanfield, for another sequel – this time From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach with Kids, which opens at The Baxter Studio on 22 December and runs through to January. Of course, COVID restrictions apply, but we are slowly creeping towards some kind of liveness in our theatres again, and I feel like I am coming back to life.

From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach and beyond

Let’s hear it for learning from each other, building bridges, understanding tolerance, respecting differences, trying out funny food, celebrating culture, singing each others’ songs, enjoying a turn of phrase.

Auto & General Theatre on the Square. Chantal Stanfield. Megan Furniss. Jew-ish. Coloured.

In a little side note observation navel gaze: I am often quite hostile about my own Jewishness. This play allows me to access it in the warmest and most non-judgemental way. It gives me the space to be kind and critical. I am able to see the funny side and enjoy my Jew-ishness without getting caught up in the fraught and political. I have watched this play evolve, and honestly, it only gets better. I am still moved and delighted by it.

How to say it

From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one-woman piece that I directed has just been extended for a week at The Baxter. Nothing could give me more ‘naches’ or joyful pride. This joy is brought home by me not having to beg, coerce or Chinese bangle (is that horribly un PC now?) anyone into going to see it. Crowds (mostly my abandoned tribe) of people have been flocking to see it, and have been doing the word of mouth thing that is more powerful than any advertising.

Although my job of directing and even ‘getting in’ to a new space is long over, I find myself drawn to the show every couple of nights, mainly to check in with Chantal because I know how lonely a one-woman show can be, but also to witness first hand the audience response to the work.

One of the benefits of directing work like this is that someone else is able to put across more subtly, kindly and persuasively, some of the strong opinions I have about being Jewish. Also, because Chantal tackles the subject from the outside looking in, she is able to make light of her observations, and it is this that the audience loves. Non Jewish audiences find the show a hilarious learning curve, while Jewish audiences are given an opportunity to laugh at themselves and see themselves a little more critically through an outsider’s eyes.

All of this in  great, true life, storytelling tradition. I am beyond delighted that this work is being so well received, thanks in part to Daphne Khun who began the journey with Chantal, and then to Nicolette Moses, who fought hard to have us at The Baxter.

You have one more week SlaapStad. Get your tickets now.

Something Special – From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach


Today I stepped into the Golden Arrow Studio at The Baxter for the first pick-up rehearsal for Cape Town’s run of From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, and as Chantal Stanfield started exploring the text in a new space I started chuckling, and smiling and even laughing out loud.

And then, unexpectedly I found myself with a frog in my throat, and I had to catch my breath and wipe a tear away, even though I knew the text by heart. I can tell you, I was taken aback – moved completely by surprise.

We had a divine reconnecting rehearsal and I left, still thinking about how it had had a profound effect on me. I have been trying to work out what happened, and I think I have a sense of it now. This little piece is a feel good story in the truest sense of the word. It is a love story, and a generous exploring of different cultures. It is filled with observation, and kindness and wonder, and humour. And it comes straight from the heart, straight to the heart.

I hope Cape Town audiences will love it. I do. We are on from 19 December to 6 January. Come, and then let me know what you think.

A First Audience

My body is an amazing machine. I have woken up this morning with an entirely different sensation in my entire body; one of almost relaxation. I had no idea how tightly I have been holding on, with a seriously stiff back and shoulders, taut stomach muscles and even tension in my jaw and face.

But last night we (Chantal Stanfield and I) had our first preview audience for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, and it was a test. A hard test because the preview audience, ‘friends of the theatre’ at Auto & General Theatre on the Square are a tough crowd of mainly old, mainly been around the block, mainly Jewish theatre goers, and we had no idea at all about how the show would go down.

As the lights dimmed and the music started I realised that I was clutching my pen so tightly I had broken though the skin on my palm. Chantal came onto stage and started. It was like my body started leaking out the tension with every word she said and every reaction from the audience. By the time she reached what we think of as the turning point there were those in the audience who wanted to clap. I found myself beaming. And then, at the end of the hour I found myself melting completely as many in the audience stood to give her a standing ovation. A Standing Ovation at our first preview.

What a blissful, comforting, lovely relief. My whole body feels it. Ok, I have woken up with a stye in my eye the size and shape of Swaziland, but that is obviously the exact point of tension release.

I can hardly believe I have most of today free. It is a gorgeous, cloudless, perfect Joburg morning. Then tonight it is our second preview and we open tomorrow night for real. Only a few tweakings and fiddlings and we are good to go.

I am finally allowing my body to start thinking about home. Big Friendly, dogs, cats, beach, wind, improv, other work that has been seriously neglected. Deep breaths in and out. Life is good.

 

tHEARTre

Everybody who loves theatre knows that kind of love. For those of us who make it, it is a tricky affair, especially in South Africa, where we are all fighting for audiences, for support, for resources, for money, for space and time. It’s like being in a relationship with a student who is waiting to hear from NSFAS.

So I am always equal parts excitement and anxiety, delight and despair, generous and jealous.

We open From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one brownish Cape Town woman’s journey into the mysteries of white, Jewish Joburg, in exactly a week. A week is just enough time to be convinced and doubtful, totally excited and utterly nervous about putting this work in front of an audience.

This is the first time I have premiered a work in Joburg. And even though Jozi is my hometown, and it holds my heart in so many ways, I can’t help but feel a little like a fish out of water here. Who are all these people, and where do they go, and will they come?

I can’t decide if the material is contentious or not. I can’t tell if it is kak funny or terribly sad, or none, or all. But soon, when we have an audience, I will know. And so beats my heart in theatre.

To book for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, go to Computicket now.

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